Publicists Guild Lunch: My Susan Lucci Moment

The Publicists Guild’s annual luncheon is March 5 (it’s traditionally the Friday before the Oscars), and at the risk of self-indulgence, here’s an explanation of why I won’t be there, as much as I could use a good rubber-chicken lunch.

Back in the 1990s I vowed not to attend this event in the future, following a string of nominations that temporarily earned me the burdensome label “The Susan Lucci of the Publicists Guild,” referring to the 19-time nominated (before she finally won) Daytime Emmy diva.

It’s mostly a blur now, but the publicists nominated me something like seven consecutive years, which made me wonder if that many of the members are truly A) inebriated or B) gluttons for punishment. Although I didn’t covet the award — for journalists, being honored by publicists is like a minnow being dubbed delicious by sharks — I didn’t want to be so rude as to not be there if my name was called. So there I was, year after year, relieved when I went home empty-handed, but irritated that it might mean going back again.

The awards also have a colorful history vis-a-vis Variety thanks to the late Will Tusher. A cranky sort who spent decades as a reporter at the paper, Will was lauded by the guild and proceeded to insult everyone in the room, getting about halfway through his 17-page acceptance speech before he took a hint from the fast-disappearing crowd and cut the manifesto long. (Alas, I wasn’t there and had to hear the tale second hand. Still, when the Los Angeles Times’ Claudia Eller was subsequently recognized, she referenced Tusher’s bad example in opting to keep her remarks short.)

My winless streak came to a merciful end while I was a colleague of Eller’s in 1998 (geez, how time flies), and I haven’t been to a Publicists Guild luncheon since.

So with that bit of history, my best to all in attendance. For publicists, of course (or anyone else, for that matter), being applauded by your peers is always a nice thing. As for the journalist nominees, my congratulations — and condolences.

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